WEST SENECA, NY (WKBW) — “It’s emotional to actually see their faces and now we can really tell their emotions and how they're feeling during the day,” Alison Zach, 4th grade teacher.
For the first time in nearly a year and a half students across the region were not required to wear masks in the classroom.
First graders at Winchester Potters Elementary in West Seneca were very happy about not having to wear face masks in their classroom.
“How does it feel today not to have a mask on?” Buckley asked. “It feels good,” responded Mya Villagomez. “It feels weird just walking into school without a mask on."
Villagomez is a first grader. She told me it feels really good to see the faces of other students and her teacher.
“I was really happy to see her face,” replied Villagomez.
For the young students, who started school during the pandemic, it is really the first time teachers are able to see their full faces .
Teachers Abby Markowski and Alison Zack told me it was amazing to walk into school Wednesday morning that they could feel a renewed vibe of happiness and excitement.
“Smiling and gigging — I mean you could feel it — you really could feel the energy,” remarked Zach.
“I personally got emotional — seeing smiles for the first time,” responded Abby Markowski.
Markowski says as a special education teacher it's so important to see her student's faces.
“And you know it's been a struggle at times with a mask on because you're muffled — you mumble,” described Markowski.
Some of the students told me they woke up this Wednesday morning and forgot that they could go mask free.
“When you woke up this morning and you knew you didn't have to wear a face mask, what were you thinking?” Buckley questioned. “I forgot that we didn't have wear it, honestly,” Neale Baer replied. “When I was going into the kitchen — I was — oh yeah I need a mask."
“I was really happy to see everyone's smiling faces and they were all really excited too,” remarked Tina Besstak, speech therapist.
Besstak says the masks really hurt language development for younger students.
“We’re teaching sounds and what you do with your mouth, your tongue and your teeth, so actually being able to see each others mouths has been wonderful,” Besstake explained.
There are still children who are wearing masks to the school. In one classroom, there were about three students with their masks on. But the school principal and teachers are encouraging students to be respectful to any students who might need or wants to wear a mask.